Instead of the standard introduction with a potential scenario that the application can save, I’m going to jump right in because today’s app, Flowdock, has a lot of features. Flowdock combines a group collaboration tool alongside a social media tracking stream to help develop your products and your business. Think of Flowdock as your development dashboard, where you can chat and collaborate, whilst monitoring your criticisms and praises on social networks.
The space for collaboration tools is very much crowded, but Flowdock seems to stand out with it’s Mac-like sex appeal and awesome set of features. As you’ll come to see, Flowdock organises, aggregates and collaborates.
A Tour of Flowdock
Flowdock is designed to resemble a native application in a dashboard fashion so one can easily access his interests in the app. The main dashboard has four main panes. The leftmost pane helps you switch between the various “applications” within Flowdock, such as Influx, the middle column displays the content that pertains to that prior selection and the rightmost pane presents the chat.
The dashboard of Flowdock is your central location that shows messages directed specifically at you, through your tag. Imagine Flowdock as a private Twitter that uses both @mentions and tags that you can filter messages by, in a similar fashion to the micro-blogging mega-site. The chat panel is similar to your Facebook profile, where all the actions you’ve undertook are shown. However, in Flowdock, this panel shows what activities your team have been doing (for example, adding Influx sources) alongside the live chat stream that anyone can contribute to. Users are listed to the left in the dashboard view, with a glow that changes depending on their availability.
The Influx tab aggregates RSS, Twitter and email messages into a live stream that’s updated in real time. We’ll expand on this a little more in a moment, but this is where anything sent to your Flowdock email is shown, as are the specific topics you’ve chosen to track on Twitter or the RSS feeds you’ve subscribed to. Again, the chat/stream is still on the right.
The third and final tab, Flowser, helps to find your Flockdock-shared assets and messages. Using those same tags and mentions I touched on before, you can filter down content through Flowser. This means you can limit your content to just messages directed at/mentioned to a specific user, or tagged with a specific word like #ideas. If you don’t feel like searching in this way, the main screen of Flowser displays both recent files and recent links.
Influx is the social media/email/RSS aggregator built right into the Flowdock web application. To put this into some perspective, imagine you just launched an iPhone app. You could use Flowdock to aggregate any mentions of your app on Twitter and any mentions from major blogs through Google News. The service can be of great use to gain feedback and any criticism. It’s an awesome solution for anyone who wants to track mentions of their name, product or business.
Adding a new Influx source to the aggregation is super simple, and done so through the click of a single button. Upon this elementary action, one can add either type of source through the universal text box at the top. Adding a search term will locate any future Twitter posts that contain that specific word or phrase whereas the RSS feed will do the same, but for traditional feeds, or from a Google News alert.
Each time a new item is available, you’re quickly notified thanks to an Apple-like red notification badge in the tabs on the left.
If Twitter, RSS or content sent to your specialized Flowdock email address is not enough, you can also import content from Github, Bitbucket and other sources that will be useful to development groups.
Real World Usage
Flowdock is a great collaboration tool that will be useful for any team or group looking to collaborate, but might be of special interest to developers with the integration of services like Github. Imagine working on a website and being able to chat with your remote team while also checking up what your beta testers are saying and mentioning on Twitter.
Or think about how awesome it would be to launch a new project, and then monitor it’s reception on Twitter and on major blogs, whilst talking to your team as they share new product ideas through your custom Flowdock email.
Flowdock has some awesome potential in real world working environments, especially as the remote nature of the working world becomes more apparent.
Flowdock is an awesome web application, but it does come at a price starting at $19 a month and increasing with the amount of users and storage you want. Interestingly, however, you can plead for a free membership to Flowdock if you happen to be a non-profit or new startup, so that’s a nice option if you’re feeling lucky.
Overall, Flowdock is a polished and functional application that’s convincingly useful. It can be a real asset to have the app on your side and will no doubt thrive in remote teams.
Have you used the application? Share your thoughts on it in the comments.